Report on the Australasian Long Term Conditions Conference

Health, the art of the possible

Held at Waipuna Lodge 29th and 30th July 2014.

There were approximately 250 attendees from a wide health background. Registered nurses, GPs, physiotherapists, project managers, health psychologists, researchers, pharmacists, portfolio managers. There was also a wide variation of ethnicities. The main groups apart from New Zealand European were Pacific Island and Maori.

The conference aim was to: prevent and reduce the impact of long term conditions.

The objectives were to:

  • Connect passionate people and focus on new ways of working, learning and collaborating.
  • Trigger new insights and knowledge sharing.
  • Plan for future workforces capable of holistic approaches to health care and wellbeing.
  • Strengthen leadership and celebrate effective change.
  • Support serious thinking about global, national and regional strategies for optimising the prevention and management of long term conditions.

(These objectives have been included because I believe the conference definitely achieved each of these clearly set out objectives.)

The main learnings from the conference:

  1. the importance of integrated care, this doesn’t happen and how can it? This could be helped by the electronic health record but as that is still not in place, where to from here? Dr.Chad Boult,a healthcare consultant from America, spoke about the Guided Care nurse. This was a pilot where a practice nurse nurse was allocated a numbers of patients with Chronic conditions and was completely responsible for streamlining their care and their interaction with other health professional. It was a very successful pilot but the continuation and further development of it failed due to “who pays”.
  2. making the patient the focus of individual care. Recognising that each patient is an individual and what works for one person may not work for another. Also, if the idea is to get people far more involved in self managing their own care they need to understand why they are doing it, the education needs to be ongoing. “Change in their behaviour is not going to happen over night”.
  3. Innovative use of technology in supporting people. That includes video linking for patient and health professionals to provide support and education to enable successful meeting of health goals set, apps to provide advice and monitor health behaviours , involvement with a personal health portal which will keep all health information together and allow patients to self manage their own care, at the same time the health professional needs to be aware of the patient’s level of health literacy, and the use of robots in peoples’ homes providing prompts and advice which could allow people to stay in their own homes longer. The message which was very strong was technology is an enhancement of the health service offered not instead of.

Six Obstacles to changing:

  • Culture Inertia
  • Existing Incentives
  • Lack of required knowledge and skills
  • Cost of new technology
  • Lack of proof of benefits of change
  • Complexity of needed change.

How do we manage this growing health challenge? Strong innovative, inclusive leadership, new models of care, research to provide evidence of effectiveness of these models of care, health funding model changed to allow new ways of working, but mainly we need informed activated patients. We need the patient at the centre of their own care – not being ‘done to’.

The overarching theme of the conference was Power to the Patient.

A booklet which was designed and distributed by Waitemata District Health Board, called Health Service Co-Design (2010), provides an excellent design for moving successfully into the future if we want to change the model to power to the patient.

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